adopted on 4 December 2003

  1. Name
    The name of the Association is THE SOCIETY OF THE FRIENDS OF LITTLE GIDDING (“the Charity”).
  2. Administration
    Subject to the matters set out below the Charity and its property shall be administered and managed in accordance with this constitution by the members of the Executive Committee, constituted by clause 7 of this constitution (“the Executive Committee”).
  3. Objects
    The Charity’s objects (“the objects”) are:

    1. The Advancement of Religion, and in particular:
      1. to give thanks to Almighty God for the holy lives and examples of Nicholas Ferrar and those who shared in his life at Little Gidding.
      2. to venerate his memory and to honour those ideals of Christian family life of which Little Gidding provided so perfect a pattern.
      3. to take a practical and active interest in the care, upkeep and adornment of the church of Little Gidding and its precincts.
      4. to arrange, as occasion provides, for visits and pilgrimages to Little Gidding and, in any other ways that may be deemed fitting, to preserve the sense of Little Gidding as a holy place, from which the sanctity can never depart.
      5. to assist and support the provision of accommodation and facilities for pilgrims and other visitors to come to, visit, or stay at Little Gidding.
    2. To advance the education of the public in the life of Nicholas Ferrar at Little Gidding and also the connection of T.S. Eliot with Little Gidding.
  4. Powers
    In furtherance of the objects but not otherwise the Executive Committee may exercise the following powers:

    1. power to raise funds and to invite and receive contributions provided that in raising funds the Executive Committee shall not undertake any substantial permanent trading activities and shall conform to any relevant requirements of the law;
    2. power to buy, take on lease or in exchange any property necessary for the achievement of the objects and to maintain and equip it for use;
    3. power subject to any consents required by law to sell, lease or dispose of all or any part of the property of the Charity;
    4. power subject to any consents required by law to borrow money and to charge all or any part of the property of the Charity with repayment of the money so borrowed;
    5. power to employ such staff (who shall not be members of the Executive Committee) as are necessary for the proper pursuit of the objects and to make all reasonable and necessary provision for the payment of pensions and superannuation for staff and their dependants;
    6. power to co-operate with other charities, voluntary bodies and statutory authorities operating in furtherance of the objects or of similar charitable purposes and to exchange information and advice with them;
    7. power to establish or support any charitable trusts, associations or institutions formed for all or any of the objects;
    8. power to appoint and constitute such advisory committees as the Executive Committee may think fit;
    9. power to do all such other lawful things as are necessary for the achievement of the objects.
  5. Membership.
    1. Membership of the Charity shall be open to:
      1. individuals (over the age of 18 years) who are interested in furthering the work of the Charity and who have paid any annual or other subscription laid down from time to time by and at the Annual General Meeting of the Society and to take effect for the calendar year immediately following such Annual General Meeting; Provided that for the period up to the 31st December 2004 the subscription shall be a minimum of Ten Pounds (£10.00).
      2. any body corporate or unincorporated association which is interested in furthering the Charity’s work and has paid any annual subscription (any such body being called in this constitution a “member organisation”).
    2. Every member shall have one vote.
    3. Each member organisation shall appoint an individual to represent it and to vote on its behalf at meetings of the Charity; and may appoint an alternate to replace its appointed representative at any meeting of the Charity if the appointed representative is unable to attend.
    4. Each member organisation shall notify the name of the representative appointed by it and of any alternate to the secretary. If the representative or alternate resigns from or otherwise leaves the member organisation, he or she shall forthwith cease to be the representative of the member organisation.
    5. The Executive Committee may unanimously and for good reason decline to accept or terminate the membership of any individual or member organisation: Provided that the individual concerned or the appointed representative of the member organisation concerned (as the case may be) shall have the right to be heard by the Executive Committee, accompanied by a friend, before a final decision is made.
    6. The Executive Committee may provide for admission to associate Junior membership of the Charity persons under the age of 18 years; such persons shall exercise no voting rights and cease to be associate Junior members upon attaining the age of 18.
  6. Honorary Officers.
    At the annual general meeting of the Charity the members shall elect from amongst themselves a chairman, a secretary and a treasurer, who shall hold office from the conclusion of that meeting.
  7. Executive Committee
    1. The Executive Committee shall consist of not less than 6 members nor more than 11 members being:
      1. the honorary officers specified in the preceding clause;
      2. not less than 3 and not more than 6 members elected at the annual general meeting who shall hold office from the conclusion of that meeting;
      3. 2 nominated members may be appointed as follows:
        • 1 person appointed by the Little Gidding Trust;
        • 1 person appointed by the Minister and Parochial Church Council responsible for the Church of Little Gidding;
    2. The Executive Committee may in addition appoint not more than 2 co-opted members but so that no one may be appointed as a co-opted member if, as a result, more than one third of the members of the Executive Committee would be co-opted members. Each appointment of a co-opted member shall be made at a special meeting of the Executive Committee called under clause 9 and shall take effect from the end of that meeting unless the appointment is to fill a place which has not then been vacated in which which case the appointment shall run from the date when the post becomes vacant.
    3. All the members of the Executive Committee shall retire from office together at the end of the annual general meeting next after the date on which they came into office but they may be re-elected or re-appointed.
    4. The proceedings of the Executive Committee shall not be invalidated by any vacancy among their number or by any failure to appoint or any defect in the appointment or qualification of a member.
    5. Nobody shall be appointed as a member of the Executive Committee who is aged under 18 or who would if appointed be disqualified under the provisions of the following clause. Provided that the Executive Committee shall have power to admit one person who is an associate Junior member to attend and take part in deliberations of the Committee but without power to vote.
    6. No person shall be entitled to act as a member of the Executive Committee whether on a first or on any subsequent entry into office until after signing in the minute book of the Executive Committee a declaration of acceptance and of willingness to act in the trusts of the Charity.
  8. Executive Committee Members not to be personally interested
    1. Subject to the provisions of sub-clause (2) of this clause no member of the Executive Committee shall acquire any interest in property belonging to the Charity (otherwise than as a trustee for the Charity) or receive remuneration or be interested (otherwise than as a member of the Executive Committee) in any contract entered into by the Executive Committee.
    2. Any member of the Executive Committee for the time being who is a solicitor, accountant or other person engaged in a profession may charge and be paid all the usual professional charges for business done by him or her or his or her firm when instructed by the other members of the Executive Committee to act in a professional capacity on behalf of the Charity: Provided that at no time shall a majority of the members of the Executive Committee benefit under this provision and that a member of the Executive Committee shall withdraw from any meeting at which his or her own instruction or remuneration, or that of his or her firm, is under discussion.
  9. Meetings and proceedings of the Executive Committee
    1. The Executive Committee shall hold at least two ordinary meetings each year. A special meeting may be called at any time by the chairman or by any two members of the Executive Committee upon not less than 4 days’ notice being given to the other members of the Executive Committee of the matters to be discussed but if the matters include an appointment of a co-opted member then not less than 21 days’ notice must be given.
    2. The chairman shall act as chairman at meetings of the Executive Committee. If the chairman is absent from any meeting, the members of the Executive Committee present shall choose one of their number to be chairman of the meeting before any other business is transacted.
    3. There shall be a quorum when at least one third of the number of members of the Executive Committee for the time being or three members of the Executive Committee, whichever is the greater, are present at a meeting.
    4. Every matter shall be determined by a majority of votes of the members of the Executive Committee present and voting on the question but in the case of equality of votes the chairman of the meeting shall have a second or casting vote.
    5. The Executive Committee shall keep minutes, in books kept for the purpose, of the proceedings at meetings of the Executive Committee and any sub-committee.
    6. The Executive Committee may from time to time make and alter rules for the conduct of their business, the summoning and conduct of their meetings and the custody of documents. No rule may be made which is inconsistent with this constitution.
    7. The Executive Committee may appoint one or more sub-committees consisting of three or more members of the Executive Committee for the purpose of making any inquiry or supervising or performing any function or duty which in the opinion of the Executive Committee would be more conveniently undertaken or carried out by a sub-committee : provided that all acts and proceedings of any such sub-committees shall be fully and promptly reported to the Executive Committee.
  10. Receipts and expenditure
    1. The funds of the Charity, including all donations contributions and bequests, shall be paid into an account operated by the Executive Committee in the name of the Charity at such bank as the Executive Committee shall from time to time decide. All cheques drawn on the account must be signed by at least two members of the Executive Committee.
    2. The funds belonging to the Charity shall be applied only in furthering the objects.
  11. Property
    1. Subject to the provisions of sub-clause (2) of this clause, the Executive Committee shall cause the title to:
      1. all land held by or in trust for the charity which is not vested in the Official Custodian for Charities; and
      2. all investments held by or on behalf of the charity;

      to be vested either in a corporation entitled to act as custodian trustee or in not less than three individuals appointed by them as holding trustees. Holding trustees may be removed by the Executive Committee at their pleasure and shall act in accordance with the lawful directions of the Executive Committee. Provided they act only in accordance with the lawful directions of the Executive Committee, the holding trustees shall not be liable for the acts and defaults of its members.

    2. If a corporation entitled to act as custodian trustee has not been appointed to hold the property of the charity, the Executive Committee may permit any investments held by or in trust for the charity to be held in the name of a clearing bank, trust corporation or any stockbroking company which is a member of the International Stock Exchange (or any subsidiary of any such stockbroking company) as nominee for the Executive Committee, and may pay such a nominee reasonable and proper remuneration for acting as such.
  12. Accounts
    The Executive Committee shall comply with their obligations under the Charities Act 1993 (or any statutory re-enactment or modification of that Act) with regard to:

    1. the keeping of accounting records for the Charity;
    2. the preparation of annual statements of account for the charity;
    3. the auditing or independent examination of the statements of account of the Charity; and
    4. the transmission of the statements of account of the Charity to the Commission.
  13. Annual Report
    The Executive Committee shall comply with their obligations under the Charities Act 1993 (or any statutory re-enactment or modification of that Act) with regard to the preparation of an annual report and its transmission to the Commission.
  14. Annual Return
    The Executive Committee shall comply with their obligations under the Charities Act 1993 (or any statutory re-enactment or modification of that Act) with regard to the preparation of an annual return and its transmission to the Commission.
  15. Annual General Meeting
    1. There shall be an annual general meeting of the Charity which shall be held as near as may be practicable to December 4th, being the annual commemoration of Nicholas Ferrar within the Calendar of the Church of England.
    2. Every annual general meeting shall be called by the Executive Committee. The secretary shall give at least 21 days’ notice of the annual general meeting to all the members of the Charity. All the members of the Charity shall be entitled to attend and vote at the meeting.
    3. Before any other business is transacted at the first annual general meeting the persons present shall appoint a chairman of the meeting. The chairman shall be the chairman of subsequent annual general meetings, but if he or she is not present, before any other business is transacted, the persons present shall appoint a chairman of the meeting.
    4. The Executive Committee shall present to each annual general meeting the report and accounts of the Charity for the preceding year.
    5. Nominations for election to the Executive Committee must be made by members of the Charity in writing and must be in the hands of the secretary of the Executive Committee at least 14 days before the annual general meeting. Should nominations exceed vacancies, election shall be by ballot.
  16. Special General Meetings
    The Executive Committee may call a special general meeting of the Charity at any time. If at least ten members request such a meeting in writing stating the business to be considered the secretary shall call such a meeting. At least 21 days’ notice must be given. The notice must state the business to be discussed.
  17. Procedure at General Meetings
    1. The secretary or other person specially appointed by the Executive Committee shall keep a full record of proceedings at every general meeting of the Charity.
    2. There shall be a quorum when at least one tenth of the number of members of the Charity for the time being or ten members of the Charity, whichever is the greater, are present at any general meeting.
  18. Notices
    1. Any notice required by this constitution to be given to or by any person must be:
      1. In writing; or
      2. given using electronic communications.
    2. The Charity may give any notice to a member either:
      1. Personally; or
      2. by sending it by post in a prepaid envelope addressed to the member at his or her address; or
      3. by leaving it at the address of the member; or
      4. giving it using electronic communications to the member’s address.
    3. A member who does not register an address with the Charity or who registers only a postal address that is not within the United Kingdom shall not be entitled to receive any notice from the Charity.
    4. A member present in person at any meeting of the Charity shall be deemed to have received notice of the meeting and of the purposes for which it was called.
      1. Proof that an envelope containing a notice was properly addressed, prepaid and posted shall be conclusive evidence that the notice was given.
      2. Proof that a notice contained in an electronic communication was sent in accordance with guidance issued by the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators shall be conclusive evidence that the notice was given.
      3. A notice shall be deemed to be given 48 hours after the envelope containing it was posted or, in the case of an electronic communication, 48 hours after it was sent.
  19. The President and Vice-Presidents of the Charity.
    1. The Bishop of Ely for the time being shall be invited to accept the honorary office of President of the Charity.
    2. The Executive Committee may invite one or more persons to accept the honorary office of Vice-President of the Charity. Each Vice-President shall hold office for life or until resignation, except that the Executive Committee, with the agreement of the President, may for good reason terminate the period of office of a Vice-President.
    3. The President and Vice-Presidents of the Charity are members of the Charity without payment of subscription under Clause 5(1)(a). They have no executive authority and are not trustees of the Charity.
    4. If the office of President of the Charity is vacant, the Executive Committee may invite one of the Vice-Presidents to act as President, and may limit or terminate the period during which he or she may so act.
    5. If a dispute arises between members of the Charity about anything done by the Charity or its officers under this Constitution, and the dispute cannot be resolved by agreement, the matter shall be referred to the President (or, where relevant, the acting President).
  20. Alterations to the Constitution
    1. Subject to the following provisions of this clause the Constitution may be altered by a resolution passed by not less than two-thirds of the members present and voting at a general meeting. The notice of the general meeting must include notice of the resolution, setting out the terms of the alteration proposed.
    2. No amendment may be made to clause 1 (the name of charity clause), clause 3 (the objects clause), clause 8 (Executive Committee members not to be personally interested clause), clause 21 (the dissolution clause) without the prior consent in writing of the Commissioners.
    3. No amendment may be made which would have the effect of making the Charity cease to be a charity at law.
    4. The Executive Committee should promptly send to the Commission a copy of any amendment made under this clause.
    5. Until the first annual general meeting shall have taken place, notwithstanding clause 20 (1), a majority of those persons subscribing below to this constitution shall have power to amend this constitution, in particular to give effect to any requirement by the Charity Commission or Inland Revenue in relation to registration of charitable status of the Charity.
  21. Dissolution
    If the Executive Committee decides that it is necessary or advisable to dissolve the Charity it shall call a meeting of all members of the Charity, of which not less than 21 days’ notice (stating the terms of the resolution to be proposed) shall be given. If the proposal is confirmed by a two-thirds majority of those present and voting the Executive Committee shall have power to realise any assets held by or on behalf of the Charity. Any assets remaining after the satisfaction of any proper debts and liabilities shall be given or transferred to such other charitable institution or institutions having objects similar to the objects of the Charity as the members of the Charity may determine or failing that shall be applied for some other charitable purpose. A copy of the statement of accounts, or account and statement, for the final accounting period of the Charity must be sent to the Commission.
  22. Arrangements until first Annual General Meeting
    Until the first annual general meeting takes place this constitution shall take effect as if references in it to the Executive Committee were references to the persons whose signatures appear at the bottom of this document.

This constitution was adopted on the date mentioned above by the persons whose signatures appear at the bottom of this document.

Signed W.N.C. Girard William Nicholas Charles Girard
T.J. Newman Terrence John Newman
W. Payne Walter Payne
N.J. Grantham Nicholas John Grantham

Amendments

This copy of the Constitution incorporates amendments made as follows:

  1. The addition of sub-clause (2) to Clause 3 as suggested by the Charity Commission;
    agreed at the General Meeting of the Society held on 6 March 2004
  2. The addition of the words ‘or other’ after the word ‘annual’ in Clause (5)(1)(i); and the replacement of Clause 18 with the corresponding current text from the Charity Commission model constitution;
    agreed at the Annual General Meeting of the Society held on 5 December 2009
  3. The insertion of a new Clause (‘The President and Vice-Presidents of the Charity’) after Clause 18, and the renumbering of the existing Clauses 19, 20 and 21 (together with all references to them) as Clauses 20, 21 and 22 respectively;
    agreed at the Annual General Meeting of the Society held on 5 December 2015